Recording for “Ripped from the Headlines” began in December 2016, in a farmhouse in Orangeville, PA. Budget and time considerations forced me to track the basic drum tracks in upstairs in the main bathroom! My main little studio in that house served as the control room. Drum tracking took a little over two days, and from there, most of the rhythmic ideas were in place. In particular, the main ideas for Time Warp Stunner and Grambo Beats Space took on their relatively final shapes while tracking. Throughout the record, you will hear snippets of storylines taken from the December 16, 1997 U.S. issue of Weekly World News. Specifically, songs like “The Sixteen Lives of Alan Lee,” “Parrot Man,” “Garage Doors Go Berserk,” and “Manimal” examine people, places, and things reported in that issue.
Are there parallels between this record and what is happening in our country today? Of course. It is cliché to say that we live in absurdist, troubled times. As I was working on the vocals for this record, the absurdity of ridiculous tabloid news from over twenty years ago juxtaposed with (and against) our real-life headline grabbers and their “fake news” kept revealing itself. I think that conflict and the ultimate struggle for truth permeates much of what you will hear within. The internal musical struggle is evidenced in the dissonance of this record – its fragmented rhythmic ideas, distortion, complex harmonic and melodic ideas, and its form.
For those of you that are interested in the gear used on the record, the Precision Drums are back this time, with Evans EC3 heads on top and Evans Resonant on the bottom. Snares included my trusty Pearl Maple, my Leedy and Ludwig ’52, and my cannon-like 6.5x14 Pearl Steel Free-Floater. Also making an appearance in the drum department this time around are my recently rebuilt 6”, 8’. And 10” Remo Roto-toms, finished in canary yellow to match the Precisions. Cymbals used were a combination of Zildjian, Istanbul, Wuhan, and Sabian. The synthesizers used on this record were a fusion of software-based things like AniMoog, Model 15, and iWavestation, coupled with hardware synths including Yamaha EX5, Emu ESI samplers (triggering EMAX II and Emulator samples), Wavestation A/D. MicroMoog, D550, DX100, SY77, SY85, and Korg M50. I also used ice bells, a MIDI Marimba, a ratchet, a homemade contact “spring reverb thing’, a bucket, some stones, a Kaoss pad, a Novation Circuit, microphones, cables, stands, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.